Herman Miller Nevi Standing Desk Review
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Like the other two standing desks in the Herman Miller work-from-home line-up, the Nevi is severely overpriced, barely configurable, and of poor quality. With a weak warranty and the most spartan of features, it tries to compete with standing desks that cost half as much and pack a lot more value. The $199-$299 delivery and install cost seems incongruous with a bottom-end standing desk, where most consumers would rather make a DIY project out of assembling it, but apparently that would entail too much of a redesign job for a desk meant to be put together by professional furniture installers. The one user review of the Nevi on the Herman Miller website is a 1-star where the customer wished they could leave “negative stars,” which kind of says it all.
|MSRP / List Price||$845|
24″ x 48″ $845
Delivery costs $199 or $299 depending on the customer’s distance from the shipping hub. Delivery is scheduled because the truck drivers will build the desk inside your home. There is no DIY option as these desks are the same ones that are shipped to professional installers for corporate customers. The product is shipped five weeks after they have your money.
5 years on the mechanical and electrical parts
Controller made by LogicData. Handset is a simple two button affair, up and down, with programmable sit and stand stops
24″ x 48″ and 30″ x 60″
White on a white base or white on a graphite (grayish) base
Standard base: 28.5 – 47.25″
200 lbs, minus desktop weight (e.g. 30×60 top weighs 45 lbs, so net 155 lbs)
|Typical Assembly Time||
Assuming drivers arrive with all the proper tools and have prior experience building a Nevi desk (both conditions are not too likely) it should take an hour to assemble the desk. Customer complaints indicate to expect much longer. You will need to wait at home for the delivery and while the drivers attempt to assemble the desk. Sometimes they just skip the assembly after dropping off the desk and then it’s up to you to figure out if you can even find a manual in the box.
Herman Miller does not publish any ANSI/BIFMA certifications for this desk, though we’d be surprised if it wasn’t at least X5.5-2014 certified.
|NEAT™ Certified by Mayo Clinic||
|Additional User Reviews||Scroll down the page to see reviews on hermanmiller.com|
|Where to buy||
Buy on Design Within Reach
Buy on Amazon
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Positives||The least expensive standing desk you can buy as a consumer from Herman Miller's e-commerce store. Oddly, it's the only one of the three Herman Miller desks (the others being the Motia and the Renew) that offers a full ANSI/BIFMA range base, meaning it can be upgraded (+$50) to work well for shorter and taller users as well.|
|Negatives||Stripped to the bones in features and quality, the Nevi is built with low-end componentry and is offered in an extremely limited range of sizes and colors. Dramatically more expensive than other standing desks of similar quality, and even ultra-premium American-made desks. Shipping and in-home installation adds $199 to $299 per desk and isn't a good experience. DIY assembly is not an option due to the fact that these desks were designed for professional installation, not assembly by the consumer. Disappointing warranty.|
A Standing Desk Offering Born of the Pandemic
As we write about in detail in our recap of COVID-19’s Dramatic Impact on the Office Fitness Industry, and Standing Desk Suppliers in Particular, the $1B+ commercial contract office furniture manufacturers have taken a huge beating, as bad as hotels and airlines in some ways. Practically in lockstep with the release of commercial office leases all over the country, large “project sales” of office furniture are down between 20% and 50% right now, depending on their customers’ geography and industry profiles.
Once they realized the dramatic impact the pandemic was going to have on their revenues these behemoth companies, like Herman Miller, Steelcase, Knoll, HON, National, et al, have all attempted to pivot as quickly as possible to capture the Work From Home (WFH) market, to try and offset their enterprise sales losses as customers abruptly turned to e-commerce for their home office standing desks.
These pivot maneuvers have taken different forms, from acquiring digitally-native furniture companies (e.g. Kimball acquired Poppin.com) to taking retail and e-commerce companies they already owned (e.g. Knoll acquired Fully.com in 2019 and Herman Miller acquired Design Within Reach back in 2014) and cross-pollinating commercial and consumer products back and forth between them.
All of these large companies, however, have the same channel conflict problem. For decades they have sold their commercial-grade office furniture products exclusively through their dealers, so-called “commercial contract furniture dealers.” But to be competitive with online sellers like UpLift, Fully, iMovR, Autonomous, and dozens of ultra-cheap Chinese-made desks sold on Amazon, as well as retailers like IKEA and Costco, there is not enough margin to cut in their dealers on these single transaction sales to consumers. So they basically cut them out of the equation and for the most part have gone “D2C” (direct-to-consumer) with their WFH offerings.
To at least try and keep their dealers from getting too upset about the situation the products being offered through the D2C channel are “highly curated” (i.e. artificially limited), and Herman Miller’s Nevi Standing Desk is no exception. Only a handful of colors, sizes and options are offered to the consumer, whereas an enterprise customer would theoretically want to stick to buying through their contract furniture dealer who can order anything from the catalog and provide installation and design services. For example, in contrast to the 35 desktop laminate colors offered on the Nevi to commercial customers, on the website you can only order the desktop in one color. You can have any color you’d like, really. As long as it’s white.
There’s a practical reason for this, though, in that unlike e-commerce players like iMovR that manufacture on-demand and can offer tens of thousands of desk configurations that can all ship out in one week, Herman Miller and its brethren have been producing desktops in large batch runs forever. It’s just how they’re wired. For enterprise customers that can wait four to six months to deliver a few hundred or a few thousand desks to a corporate campus that’s not a problem. But for e-commerce, it is. So to enable relatively fast shipping they’ve had to pre-produce a limited number of colors and sizes and keep them in stock, which would be a huge and impractical capital investment if they were to offer all their colors and sizes online.
By the way, when we say “relatively fast shipping” we normally mean one week or less from order. In the case of the Herman Miller Nevi it’s five weeks (see more below about delivery). It’s even worse for the Renew desk—that one takes seven weeks to ship. Only the Herman Miller Motia ships from inventory.
The Highly Curated E-Commerce Offering
We compared what Herman Miller offers online in terms of desk sizes, colors and finishes, height range and other options to what they offer through their traditional dealer channel. Keep in mind you can’t actually buy anything through the dealer channel as a consumer. A Herman Miller dealer won’t return your phone call if you aren’t interested in buying hundreds of desks at a time, and they don’t generally have a website for random customers to order online. As a consumer, you’re limited to their WFH offering, which is a direct purchase from the manufacturer with no dealer involvement.
The Nevi is Herman Miller’s bottom-of-the-line standing desk, a step down from the Motia and two steps down from the Renew desks. In the case of a 30″ x 60″ desk, the commercial contract furniture price book for the Nevi lists a price of $1,858, which dealers buy at 50% off, or $929. No one actually pays $1,858, it’s just that advertising scheme we’re all familiar with from retail furniture stores that run “30% OFF!” sales routinely. So a regular selling price for this desk would be $1,300 plus freight, give or take, depending on volume.
Herman Miller initially has priced the consumer version of the Nevi at $845 for the smaller desk and $985 for the larger. Add the $199 to $299 delivery fee (depending on distance from the shipping hub to your home).
If you’re gasping for oxygen at these price points you should be. For this kind of quality and componentry, you can find desks at less than half the price. Even if you’re looking for a premium, tech-forward, made-in-USA standing desk with a great warranty you can find much, much nicer ones at prices well below the Herman Miller Nevi. And they’ll ship in one week, not five.
The Nevi’s minimal base is rated for only 200 lbs, from which one must deduct the weight of the work surface. At 1.25″ thick the 30″x60″ MDF-core work surface should weigh about 45 lbs, yielding a net lift capacity of 155 lbs. While this sounds like a lot keep in mind that this lift rating is under ideal conditions of all the weight being evenly distributed along the line running between the lifting columns and doesn’t account for side-loading stresses on the linear actuators. (Learn more in our primer on Do Weight Ratings on Standing Desks Really Matter?)
So let’s get down to the differences in what Herman Miller offers online versus through its dealers.
To traditional enterprise customers, Herman Miller’s desktop options include a whopping 35 colors of high-pressure laminate (HPL), whereas for online buyers they only offer one color, white (learn about HPL and other materials in our primer on choosing the right desktop for your standing desk).
Commercial customers can order any size desktop from 24″ x 48″ to 30″ x 72″, on six-inch increments. In other words, 10 different sizes. E-commerce customers are offered just two: 24″ x 48″ and 30″ x 60″, the same as on the Motia and Renew standing desks.
Lifting Base Technology
Of the three Herman Miller standing desk lines, the Nevi uses the lowest-quality componentry. The base on the Nevi desk is produced by Jiecang in China, and is of subpar quality compared to the American-made frames on the Motia and Renew.
The standard base on the Herman Miller Nevi will not even work for many individuals who aren’t specifically of medium stature, with its very narrow height adjustment range of only 28.5 – 47.25″. On all the Herman Miller desks commercial customers have the option of a full “BIFMA range” dual-stage base, which is the most common configuration since this is the only one that meets the ANSI/BIFMA G1-2013 Ergonomic Guidelines that corporate, government and education customers are required to buy.
Ironically, Herman Miller has chosen to curate the two higher-end models by eliminating the BIFMA range base as an option, leaving those products ergonomically inappropriate for shorter and taller users. But they chose to keep it on the Nevi line. Upgrading to the extended height base (22.5″ – 48.5″) adds only $50 to the price and is well worth it.
In terms of paint colors on the base, commercial customers get nine base color choices to choose from, while online customers get only two: white or graphite (a grayish silver).
Commercial customers are also offered an alternative “T-leg” configuration versus the “C-leg” which is the only version offered to online buyers. That’s really not a big deal, though. It’s just another example of the company’s approach to the WFH market tying one hand behind its back so as not to offend its loyal dealers.
Other than the extended height base option Herman Miller doesn’t offer online buyers any of the plethora of add-on options you can find in their 42-page commercial price book. Again, this is seemingly just a matter of sales channel protection.
Assembling the Nevi Desk Won’t Be Your Problem, Kinda
We always recommend reading over the assembly manual in advance of buying any standing desk online (or better yet, watch a video of the entire assembly process). Unfortunately, Herman Miller doesn’t even offer a downloadable copy of the installation manual, much less any video instruction guide. We can surmise that this is likely because the Nevi was designed only for professional furniture installers to assemble, using special tools most people don’t have around, like Torx wrenches.
Even though the Nevi is now being marketed toward the home office worker as Herman Miller and Design Within Reach try to capture back as much business that has fled to e-commerce as possible, all they really did was take a teeny tiny subset of the commercial Nevi options and price them seemingly cheaper for consumers. They didn’t even bother to create new documentation for this simplified, albeit still very pricey rendition of their mainline Nevi desk.
So how did Herman Miller resolve the issue of difficulty of assembly for WFH consumers? They decided to charge an extra $199 or $299 (depending on your distance from the shipping hub) for delivery and in-home assembly. Using a national “final mile” delivery company, the drivers who will be assembling your desk in your home will have a near-zero chance of having seen a Herman Miller desk before. Judging by some of the user reviews of this delivery experience they may not even bring all the right tools to the job.
It sounds nice, the idea of having “professional installation” instead of having to build the desk yourself, but these are not the same professional furniture installers that came to your corporate campus to build 1,000 office desks over several weeks’ time. These are drivers used to setting up large-screen TVs and such. You will need to schedule a delivery window and stay home until they show up (which isn’t always within that window, could be later or even the next day depending on how their day goes) and then give them the time to review the instructions and build the desk, and the space to do it in.
There are no video guides for the drivers either, so customer experiences with the delivery and installation have been problematic. Some customers report killing half a day waiting for delivery and drivers not leaving until late into the evening. Some of the assemblies went so poorly that the desks ended up being returned as defective.
Here’s what one flustered customer wrote in their 1-star review of their experience with the Herman Miller Nevi desk: “WORST EXPERIENCE – UNACCEPTABLE! I am flabbergasted at how bad the experience was with Herman Miller. One would expect a premium experience but it was like I had bought from an unknown fly by night operation and the whole experience has been a complete waste of time. I waited two months for this desk to arrive. The promised deliver date was way behind schedule and there was a lack of communication from the start which was a bad sign and I should of just canceled my order. The logistics company gave me a two hour window of 5-7pm on a Friday night so we had to wait around for delivery- they ended up coming at 7:30 so they were late. The delivery people left our house at 9:30 pm! We had dedicate four and a half hours for this desk! This is a total disregard for your customers time Herman Miller! After all this – the desk was defective! It was 4 inches higher on one side so it’s not level, the up down buttons work opposite to what they are supposed to do – up goes down/ down goes up. There is a chip in the desk to boot. The logistics guys were very nice and I felt bad that they had to work late on a Friday night. I hope they got paid. They worked hard to get the desk assembled correctly – three people worked on it for two hours and my husband even tried to help!! This whole experience has been comical – I waited two months for a totally defective desk. I do not recommend Herman Miller products due to poor quality control and poor service. I would give negative stars.” So… caveat emptor.
For a lot less money than the Nevi (including the delivery and installation charges) you could buy a truly premium standing desk that arrives 90% factory pre-assembled, with your part of the installation not even requiring you to fetch a toolbox. Several premium, made-in-America standing desks come this way, assembling in 3 to 8 minutes once removed from the packaging. They cost significantly less than a Nevi and there are no shipping fees added to the price. Learn about those options in our round-up of Quick Install Standing Desks. They also typically ship same day to one week from order, as opposed to five weeks from order for the Nevi desk.
Customer Service? What’s That?
We recommend reading through the user reviews on Herman Miller’s own site, as we always do, to get a flavor for how well they handle customer service with end consumers. Let’s be honest, all these major manufacturers that aren’t digitally-native are used to having their dealers perform the end customer service, so we weren’t too surprised to hear that getting good customer service was a challenge for a lot of customers.
We tested their live chat capability on the hermanmiller.com website on a Sunday, when many WFH customers have the time to do their online research and shopping. The 30-minute wait time for a live sales rep to respond to a simple product question was a bad omen. Once we did get a response the rep appeared to know practically nothing about the product. They couldn’t even send us a copy of the installation manual. This is not the kind of experience you would expect from a digitally-native standing desk manufacturer’s live chat interaction. It is the most common way that e-commerce customers communicate with sellers these days to ask questions… a few still call by phone, and some send an email, but most users interact over live chat. So this needs to be a core competency for Herman Miller and it clearly isn’t, at least not yet.
Considering the outlandish prices they are charging for the Nevi desk we find this aspect of the customer experience to be the biggest differentiation in what you can expect between a big corporate furniture brand like Herman Miller and one of the highly-proficient, digitally-native brands like iMovR, UpLift or Fully.
We were very surprised to see only a five-year warranty on the base when the competition of Chinese-made desks from Fully and UpLift are seven years, and American-made desks like iMovR’s are ten years. This again seems artificially set since commercial customers get 12 years of warranty on the whole desk. For consumers, the desktop warranty was left at 12 years, but with so many limitations you’re not ever likely to file a claim and incur the expense of return shipping.
E-commerce-Ready With a 5-week Ship Time?!
Herman Miller just doesn’t seem to get it. Despite their massive advertising campaigns targeting the WFH market, they just don’t seem to understand that consumers’ expectations are set by Amazon, not Steelcase. It seems inconceivable that any consumer will want to pay up this much for the Herman Miller brand and then wait five weeks just for the desk to leave the warehouse.
Color us perplexed, but not all too terribly surprised.
The Bottom Line
Severely overpriced, low-quality components, in extremely limited sizes and colors, month-and-a-half delivery timeframe, expensive in-home installation fees and substandard customer service are not a great combo when considering buying a standing desk that costs upwards of $1,000 to $1,300. You can get a far superior product and overall customer experience with one of the other top-rated standing desks we’ve reviewed, and especially if limiting your consideration to made-in-America standing desks that are sold online.
The pivot maneuver for this multi-billion-dollar office furniture behemoth to serving the work-from-home consumer via e-commerce has been poorly executed, as it has generally been for most of their peers. Fortunately for Herman Miller, their chair sales to home office customers have gone much better than desk sales, and it really saved their bacon with Wall Street.
Our advice? Stick with the digitally-native brands of standing desk sellers. You’ll get way more product for the money, an easier assembly task, more responsive pre-sale and post-sale customer service, not to mention a vastly greater choice in size, shape, color and desktop materials. Even an ultra-premium, American-made standing desk like the Lander Lite, with far greater quality, an immense selection in desktops, tech-forward features (like Bluetooth and built-in health coach, anti-collision, full ANSI/BIFMA certification and compliance), twice the warranty term, free shipping, excellent support and an 8-minute assembly time will set you back a whole lot less.